Africa and Western World / Military Interventions / Religion, Spirituality, and the Supernatural / Southern Africa

Of Witches and Drones and How We (All) Normalize Violence

The basic logic governing the use of drones and of witchcraft accusations is not as different as many Americans might like to think. Why do so many of us accept the use of drones? Because we believe that people are plotting to harm us, and we do not want ourselves or our loved ones to get hurt. Why do some Africans kill people believed to be witches? Because they believe that people are plotting to harm them, and they do not want themselves or their loved ones to get hurt. However, in the US, many of us have the luxury of expecting violence to be distant and rare. Continue reading

Music and Pop Culture / Racism and Xenophobia / Religion, Spirituality, and the Supernatural / West Africa

“It started from Nouakchott”: Gender, Youth, and Islamist Discourses in Mauritania

Mauritanian rapper, Hamzo Bryn, released a music video, “It started from Nouakchott” via his facebook page in September of 2013. The conversations that were sparked by the music video about correct Islamic practice, cultural norms, race, generational differences, and national identity were already happening in Mauritania but reached a new level of importance after the appearance of this video. As one Mauritanian blogger wrote forebodingly, this video signaled a moment when Mauritanian youth could decide what kind of future nation they want but, also, a time when the coming tensions would not be between Islam and the West but between Muslims themselves debating this future and this nation. Continue reading

Latent Recognition: African Refugees in Israel
East Africa / Horn of Africa / Racism and Xenophobia / Refugees

Latent Recognition: African Refugees in Israel

In Israel, particularly acute demographic pressures have been compounded by economic anxieties and unspoken and overt forms of racism to create an especially intractable situation for African refugees and asylum seekers. And the construction of a detention center in the Negev weighs heavily in a country that was born out of the failures of other nations to provide asylum during World War II. But do the contradictions of Israeli nationalism simply refract a more pervasive problem: that asylum may be impossible for more than a small minority in any system of nation-states? Continue reading